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Apple Switching To Intel Chips In 2006 1427

Posted by Zonk
from the late-lamented-powerpc dept.
telstar writes "According to C|Net, Apple has officially decided to drop IBM, and will use Intel processors starting in their '06 line of systems. This change was rumored last month. The announcement is expected Monday at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference in San Francisco, at which Chief Executive Steve Jobs is giving the keynote speech." From the article: "Apple successfully navigated a switch in the 1990s from Motorola's 680x0 line of processors to the Power line jointly made by Motorola and IBM. That switch also required software to be revamped to take advantage of the new processors' performance, but emulation software permitted older programs to run on the new machines."
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Apple Switching To Intel Chips In 2006

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  • April Fools? Right? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by 2nd Post! (213333) <gundbear@@@pacbell...net> on Friday June 03, 2005 @10:42PM (#12720239) Homepage
    Wasn't April a couple months ago?

    I suppose C|Net could be right, there's nothing technically stopping a 'switch' to Intel, but I don't see what Intel has in 2006 that IBM can't match, or AMD, or whoever.
    • Apple vs IBM (Score:5, Interesting)

      by xswl0931 (562013) on Friday June 03, 2005 @10:53PM (#12720325)
      More likely, knowing Steve Jobs, he couldn't get his way with IBM, so he threatened to go to Intel. IBM decided to call the bluff.
      • easy to trace (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 04, 2005 @12:59AM (#12721156)
        it would be easy to trace Jobs' path through this latest episode:

        - IBM bends over and hands them the PPC970.
        - Jobs publicly trumpets that the chip will hit 3GHz in a year's time.
        - Jobs gets humiliated by the fact they didn't even come close and still aren't there after 2 years.
        - Jobs throws constant fits and IBM suddenly considers using their tech for more gracious customers... say, game console manufacturers
        - Jobs get jealous of the attention paid to said console manufacturers
        - Jobs delivers an ultimatum, IBM calls his bluff, and Jobs is suddenly looking elsewhere for the future of his platform.

        Sound crazy? Consider the Altivec debacle and how IBM backed away from the AIM alliance after that. Consider Moto's redirection to embedded processors (hello game consoles) and Jobs' resultant fishing for new tech. Jobs may be running out of corps that will put up with his, uh... particularly demanding negotiation skills. Then again, maybe Monday will bring a nice surprise... a choice of chips for the Mac platform. Here's hoping.
        • Re:easy to trace (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 04, 2005 @11:57AM (#12723681)
          You are close but your anger is clouding your vision. I will fix up your list.

          - IBM and Apple sign a multi chip agreement with very specific clock speed, power usage, production quantities and target dates built into the contract. the first chip is the PPC970.

          - Jobs and IBM publicly trumpets that the chip will hit 3GHz in a year's time which is actually well below the contractual promises IBM made.

          - Jobs and IBM get humiliated by the fact they didn't even come close and still aren't there after 2 years.

          - Jobs throws constant fits and points out that IBM has missed every metric they contractually promised to meet. Jobs also points out that the way the contract is structured that Apple now has a right to a significant chunk of IBM IP and the right to shop for a manufacturer who is able to produce any and all of the chips under the original agreement.

          While this is unfolding, IBM has been making the same pie in the sky promises to Sony and MS. As with Apple, IBM begins significantly scaling back the promises made to Sony and MS.

          - Jobs get jealous of the attention paid to said console manufacturers

          - Jobs exercises the options available and IBM gets taken to the cleaners.

          I will restate. The contract Apple has with IBM has a "Moto" contingency. There are extremely tough provisions in the contract that Apple insisted upon to prevent another Motorola scenario from happening. IBM had no problem with the provisions because they were positive the could beet the goals by two in half the time. IBM fucked up badly.

          Apple now owns a large amount of PPC IP and Intel will now be manufacturing and designing PPC chips.

          One last comment on the Altivec "debacle." Considering that 99% of the chips IBM will manufacture over the next five years will have Altivec or a close derivative, the debacle is IBM's blindness to the importance of vector processing for so long.
    • According to TFA they aren't even going to be switching the higher end machines over till 2007, they will start with the mac mini and go up. Maybe target the laptops first. Intel's laptop offerings are probably the most intereting thing they have out right now.
    • As long as it works like a Mac and runs all my software as well as a current Mac can, I couldn't care less what CPU it's running on.

      Either way, it's not as though the x86 is totally inferior to the PPC. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses compared to its rival.

      Short of the zealots (who happen to gravitate to this site), I would tend to think my fellow mac users would feel the same way. The experience is what makes a Mac, not the cpu.

      All I can say is that it would be kickass to have a Mac with WINE
  • Hello Pear! (Score:5, Funny)

    by eltoyoboyo (750015) on Friday June 03, 2005 @10:42PM (#12720240) Journal
    Looks like they will want to snap up a bunch of developers from the PearPC project!
  • The sky is falling! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mrshowtime (562809) on Friday June 03, 2005 @10:42PM (#12720243)
    How odd, Microsoft uses apple dv kits for the xbox 360 and IBM power pc chips and now apple drops IBM for Intel, how freakin' strange is that?
  • by GaryPatterson (852699) on Friday June 03, 2005 @10:42PM (#12720244)
    There's nothing to substantiate their story. It's all down to "CNET has learned..." and nothing else.

    Is this yet another rumour? Is there anything to be read in Apple meeting with Intel above the idea that they might go PCIe instead of PCI-X?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 03, 2005 @11:39PM (#12720684)
      Unlike ASOT, I cannot post actual information without fear of losing my job. Because I'm not sure if the exact specs on what I was given is some type of loyalty test to track down leaks. Since Think-Secret doesn't have it yet.

      Now, I have no evidence if we have Intel based Macs hiding anywhere. But, I do have evidence of the next PowerMac (yah, yah we just speed bumped them). But, it means at least one more generation of PowerMacs that are 970 based.

      Now it could be we are switching to Intel chips and when I walk in Monday, I will learn all my work has been for naught. But, I think since I have access to a PowerMac unlike any other, I should also be allowed to know about a platform switch, but who knows.
    • by kuwan (443684) on Saturday June 04, 2005 @12:04AM (#12720860) Homepage
      I'll eat my hat if Jobs announces a switch to Intel chips (and I'll even be there at the Keynote). The most glaring giveaway in the article that this will NOT happen is this:

      Apple plans to move lower-end computers such as the Mac Mini to Intel chips in mid-2006 and higher-end models such as the Power Mac in mid-2007, sources said.

      So Apple's going to force their Developers, the people who need to have the latest, greatest and fastest machines, to use Mac Minis to develop their software on? Not in a billion years!

      There's no way in Hell that Apple could ever get away with switching low-end Mac Minis first and then top of the line Power Macs a year later. No developer is going to torture himself on a Mac Mini when they could be developing on a Dual 2.7 GHz (or higher) G5. Sure there are those that will say that Apple will let you compile on a G5 and then just test on a Mini - that will never happen either. It would increase development time by at least a factor of 2 and probably more. This would effectively kill the Mac platform.

      If Apple would ever consider this (which I doubt, AMD is far better than Intel and I believe the PPC platform has a far brighter future than the x86 platform, just look at all the next-gen gaming consoles) then they would need to transition their high-end machines first if not at the same time as everything else.

      Not to mention the fact that SSEx pales in comparison to Altivec. Why does this matter? Because Apple has invested heavily in vectorized libraries, especially CoreImage. CoreImage & Quartz 2D Extreme rely heavily on Altivec when you don't have a graphics card capable of running them. SSE just wouldn't be able to cut it. Also, what's Apple to do with all their engineers that have so much experience with PPC and Altivec? I could go on and on.

      It would take 4-5 years or more for Apple to make the transition and optimize OS X on Intel to where it is today (Apple might have a version of OS X running on x86, but I'm sure that it's nowhere near as optimized as Tiger is for PPC). Does Apple really want to give Microsoft that much time to catch up? I think not! They'd much rather run circles around Microsoft. It will be a cold day in Hell before this happens.
    • CNet is not a rumor site. If they did not have a very creditable source they would not report it.
    • by blunte (183182)
      1. Apple has been losing the MHz war for years, and looking worse each year for it (even though Intel has even begun to back away from MHz claims).

      Two years ago Steve Jobs said, "We'll be at 3GHz next year!". Next year came, and they were 2.5GHz with excuses. Now a year later they're at a whopping 2.7GHz. It's embarassing, even if it isn't a real issue.

      2. Apple doesn't need more difficulting in getting products built and delivered on time.

      IBM has thus far not been as reliable as Intel in getting proce
    • In further news, CNet has learned that in the modern world of journalism, informing the public with accurate information doesn't pay the bills as well as cranking out controversial rumors that generate massive server loads.

      Seriously. If this turns out to be bollocks--and I'd say the odds are greater than 50%--will CNet be punished at all? Will Slashdot stop running their stories? Nah. It's not going to hurt them a bit.

      They've learned nothing from the Newsweek fiasco. Get two independent, on-the-rec
  • x86 (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 03, 2005 @10:42PM (#12720246)
    so... OS X86. Maybe it'll be called Chameleon instead of these cat names? crossing platforms, it will be!
  • MacOSX on x86? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Espectr0 (577637) on Friday June 03, 2005 @10:43PM (#12720248) Journal
    How will they make sure MacOSX doesn't run on cheap X86 machines? Or will they use a different chip family?
    • Re:MacOSX on x86? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by 2nd Post! (213333) <gundbear@@@pacbell...net> on Friday June 03, 2005 @10:51PM (#12720311) Homepage
      They could always create their own motherboard, chipset, and drivers. I mean, right now Darwin doesn't run on any x86 other than the 440BX chipset. so if Apple get's it's own chipset I don't see why OS X would run on any other. Right now every release of new hardware has a corresponding point release of the OS that includes firmware and drivers for the new machine.
    • Re:MacOSX on x86? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by travail_jgd (80602) on Friday June 03, 2005 @10:58PM (#12720372)
      If it's true... they'd be foolish not to use only 64-bit processors (maybe dual-cores only). Then again, some site [slashdot.org] reported that Intel was adding DRM to their CPUs and chipsets.

      Maybe the DRM was the clincher for Apple.
    • by Picass0 (147474) on Friday June 03, 2005 @11:09PM (#12720461) Homepage Journal
      Dual core PowerPC G5 on the way, not Intel.

      http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1759,1823282,00.as p [eweek.com]

      Analysts: Dual-Core PowerPC G5s Due for Apple

      Building a G5 PowerBook could be an aesthetic challenge for Apple. The G5 chip tends to consume more power and produce more heat than the G4. Hotter, more power-hungry chips tend to require a thicker, more spacious chassis and larger, higher-capacity batteries--all of which might lead to a more portly PowerBook.

      But, analysts say, versions of the 970FX technically already fit into the power envelope needed for Apple to offer a mid- to full-size laptop in the 5-7 pound range. At the moment, two of its three PowerBook G4 portables weigh in at over 5 pounds.

      Aiding portability, IBM has also added a power-management feature to the PowerPC 970FX. Called PowerTune, it can cut the chip's clock speed, therefore lowering its voltage, in order to save on power.

      Therefore, a 1.8GHz PowerPC 970FX would be a good choice--it would top the current G4 processor--but power management might still be an issue in some other ways.

      The 1.8GHz chip "might be 35 watts or something like that. There are plenty of 35-watt [notebook] processors out there. The big problem is you want to get average power [consumption] to be a lot lower. That relies to a large degree on software management," Glaskowsky said. "If I had to pick a reason why it hasn't shown up yet ... I'd say it's [Apple power management] software."

      Still, not everyone believes that the Power PC 970FX makes a great notebook chip.

      "Right now, from IBM's perspective, the [PowerPC] 970 is a pretty competitive part, but they definitely lack a low-power version," said Kevin Krewell, editor-in-chief of the Microprocessor Report, in San Jose, Calif. "The question is, can you get it low enough--25 watts to 35 watts--in order to get it into something sleek enough for Apple?"

      To arrive at the right mix of frequency and performance, Krewell suggests that IBM and Apple might need to consider creating a new G4-G5 hybrid instead of delivering a low-power 970.

      "The best route would be to develop a new [processor] core that's somewhere between the G5 and the G4," Krewell said, "But that's a significant design undertaking ... and it's a limited-size market. A redesigned core might be attractive for future multicore processors" for desktops and servers as well, he said.

      Apple could also adopt a multicore G4 derivative from Freescale Semiconductor Inc., once the chip arm of Motorola Inc., for its portables, Krewell said.

      "That's still a 2006 thing ... and it's designed for the network world," he said. "It would require some modifications. But it's doable."

      Representatives from Apple and IBM declined to comment for this story. A Freescale spokesman did not return a call.

      Editor's Note: This story was updated to reflect the fact that an Apple representative returned a phone call to eWEEK.com but declined to comment.
    • There is more to being an IBM PC Compatible than using an x86 CPU. Apple could basically take their current proprietary designs and replace the CPU, leave everything else as is as much as possible. It makes no difference for them, the only OS they need to worry about is their own. As a matter of fact, doing anything else would be insane. They would destroy their business if they built yet another PC clone. Keep in mind that they are a hardware company, their excellent software is merely the incentive to buy
  • by MuckSavage (658302) on Friday June 03, 2005 @10:43PM (#12720251)
    Really, this has been on the table many times. When will this rumor die? Oh, and on tuesday, Steve will announce that Disney is purchasing Apple.
  • by silentbozo (542534) on Friday June 03, 2005 @10:44PM (#12720261) Journal
    Emulating 68k stuff is easy, thanks to the cumulative efforts of some very talented individuals working on multiple platforms. But what about decent PPC emulation? Are they going to force recompiles of new software, and completely abandon support for old PPC binaries, or are they going to have really slow support of PPC software?
  • It is NOT official (Score:5, Informative)

    by vivek7006 (585218) on Friday June 03, 2005 @10:47PM (#12720286) Homepage
    From the report IBM, Intel and Apple declined to comment for this story. How the hell does that make official?
  • New device (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BWJones (18351) * on Friday June 03, 2005 @10:48PM (#12720290) Homepage Journal
    So while this is technically feasible, I doubt that Apple is planning a wholesale switch to Intel chips as there is too much invested in both marketing and developer relations. From a technical perspective, Darwin runs on both platforms and there have been long standing rumors of Apple maintaining dual codebases for current OS X releases, so making things run would not be a problem. Developers however, would require significant resources to recompile their code for compatibility. I suspect that the News.com story is only partially correct. Apple has for some time been using Intel chips in their Xserve, and their may very well be additional products yet to be announced. However, think about this possibility: Apple has significant resources devoted to Altivec just about everywhere in the OS, functions that are not available in any currently shipping Intel chip. But imagine this: What if rather than OS X being run on x86, Intel were to produce a PPC chip with Altivec? I do not know what the current licensing agreements are with Apple, IBM and Motorola, but if the licensing were prohibitive, perhaps Apple certainly could help with the reverse engineering of such a chip.

    Even that seems like a bit of a stretch to me as I suspect the reality is more like Apple will be using Intel chips in a potential variety of new areas. Chips for networking and WIMAX for example. Or.....given the performance of Intel mobile chips relative to Motorola chips, perhaps as a warning shot across the bow of IBM, Apple will announce that Apple portable systems like Powerbooks will move to Intel chips. Even though I am quite the Apple aficionado, I have to admit that Intel is doing some pretty impressive portable CPUs. Near future plans for Intel portables include built in WiFi and dual cores. However, I realize that this would introduce more than a little difficulty for developers who have a "portable OS" and a "desktop OS" which would suck.

    So....perhaps what is really going to happen is that Intel will produce a "portable" PPC chip for something new? Something like a new Newton? If I recall correctly, my Newton 130 ran an ARM chip, and I believe that Intel has the license rights to develop ARM based CPU cores..... Oh please oh please oh please.....

    • Re:New device (Score:3, Insightful)

      by John_Booty (149925)
      Apple has for some time been using Intel chips in their Xserve, and their may very well be additional products yet to be announced. However, think about this possibility: Apple has significant resources devoted to Altivec just about everywhere in the OS, functions that are not available in any currently shipping Intel chip. But imagine this: What if rather than OS X being run on x86, Intel were to produce a PPC chip with Altivec? I do not know what the current licensing agreements are with Apple, IBM and Mo
    • by Corpus_Callosum (617295) on Friday June 03, 2005 @11:22PM (#12720545) Homepage
      I have heard rumors that Apple has been talking to Transitive Technologies about Quick Transit [transitive.com] which is a code translation system that can re-map system calls on the fly as well as do very fast optimized recompilation of native code. Think of it as a JIT for processor emulation.

      If the claims about Quick Transit are true, and there is no reason to believe that they are false as evidenced by the product's success runix MIPS code on Itaniums (see here [intldeveloper.com]), then we should actually see a performance increase for PPC applications (not recompiled) running on OS X x86.

      If you were Steve and your apps (as well as everyone elses) ran unmodified on intel hardware faster than it ran on your own, you would probably build some boxes based on intel as well.

      There may actually be no need for developers to recompile anything. With Quick Transit built into the OS (let's assume it becomes part of OS X), it would be possible to target x86, PPC or even other architectures and yet run at essentially full speed on any deployment architecture. I know this sounds a bit wicked. It did to me as well. I am sure there will be a bit of a performance and memory hit when your applications are not native, but those hits may be completely overwhelmed by silicon horsepower.

      If done properly, this could be a very good move for Apple.
      • by jmv (93421) on Saturday June 04, 2005 @12:58AM (#12721148) Homepage
        I really doubt they can run PPC code on an x86 faster than it is on the PPC. Not only are new PPC close to x86 at native code, but the translation isn't easy at all. I could see a PPC doing a decent job at x86 emulation, but for the reverse there's a problem: registers. If you have a piece of PPC code that uses more registers than the x86 has (I expect this is true of any decent code), then you need to replace registers by memory (L1 at least) accesses. That will cost a lot.
  • by dgrgich (179442) <drew@@@grgich...org> on Friday June 03, 2005 @10:49PM (#12720300) Homepage
    . . . run OS X on whatever Intel system you want, folks. I'm sure that there will be a dozen "I can't wait to put this on my blah-blah-blah Dell blah-blah-blah".

    Apple is a hardware company. They will make damn sure that you can only run their software on their hardware.
  • by dgrgich (179442) <drew@@@grgich...org> on Friday June 03, 2005 @10:54PM (#12720334) Homepage
    I'm sure that others have surmised this. There is absolutely no way that Apple will invest the money in an expensive-for-the-consumer line of computers that will be partially obsolete in less than two years; who in their right mind would buy them?

    It also occurs to me - another point that I'm sure others have already thought of - that this may be why they are forced to switch to Intel. They can't get chips small enough for a Powerbook G5 line.
    • by Atzanteol (99067) on Friday June 03, 2005 @11:04PM (#12720427) Homepage
      They can't get chips small enough for a Powerbook G5 line.

      Looking at the iMac G5, I can't see why not. I mean, that things almost a laptop already! I'm really surprised there are no laptops with G5's yet. I thought it was the next step from that iMac...
      • Looking at the iMac G5, I can't see why not. I mean, that things almost a laptop already!

        Let's see... maybe because the sonofabitch weights 25 pounds? http://www.apple.com/imac/specs.html [apple.com] has the 20" at 25.2 pounds. I got one iMac G5 20" at home and five at the office and "almost a laptop" doesn't cut it.

      • Except that the things are just about melting...
        (see the 'non-existant' stories about the capacitors on those things, and the temperature readings)

        Oh, and apparently the new G5 towers have even more temperature sensors - those chips run *hot*.

        And to think that I was tossed between potentially buying an iBook or a Thinkpad (or whatever Lenovo will call it).
      • I mean, that things almost a laptop already!

        And a bike is almost a motorcycle.
      • "I mean, that things almost a laptop already!"

        Yeah, except that it doesn't have to worry about pesky things like *running on batteries for a decent amout of time*.

        The PPC970FX is ~50W average. Intel's Pentium-M line is closer to 20W max.

        Designing a PowerBook G5 would require:

        - Severely reduced battery life (e.g. the 2 hours typical of P4-M notebooks instead of the 4-5 hours typical of P-M notebooks). This would be a disaster for Apple as their product would look stupid compared to P-M based notebooks th
        • - A switch to Intel CPUs. That likely means Pentium-M or Celeron-M in their small-form-factor (Mini, iMac, eMac) and notebook (iBook, PowerBook) computers, and potentially Pentium-4 in their desktop line.

          Don't forget that this transition will likely be taking place from mid-2006 (low end) to mid-2007 (high end). From the article [com.com]:

          Apple plans to move lower-end computers such as the Mac Mini to Intel chips in mid-2006 and higher-end models such as the Power Mac in mid-2007, sources said.

          That likely mea

    • It also occurs to me - another point that I'm sure others have already thought of - that this may be why they are forced to switch to Intel. They can't get chips small enough for a Powerbook G5 line.

      Well, if you consider this [pcworld.com] plus this [transitive.com], you certainly can see that the recipe is there for Apple to produce a laptop using intel chips that is much faster than a G4 laptop using OS X compiled for x86 and yet applications compiled for the PPC.

      Read carefully. Do the research. It sounds nuts, but this migh

  • Overlooked points... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Geiger581 (471105) on Friday June 03, 2005 @10:55PM (#12720343)
    1) IBM has opened up Cell, royalty-free.

    2) Apple will never let MacOS run on an open platform/commodity hardware again.

    3) AMD has virtually no non-x86 CPU tech.

    I predict that Intel will either manufacture a Cell derivative or a big-endian, possibly non-x86 propreitary CPU and chipset.
  • by mactari (220786) <rufworkNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday June 03, 2005 @11:19PM (#12720530) Homepage
    Come on folks, there's a reason Via was able to enter the x86 market so easily. And there's a reason why IBM started making PPCs after Motorla. These folks know how to make computer hardware.

    Would anybody be that surprised if Intel started making PPC-esque architecture chips? Don't be. Intel knows Si's at 14 as well as anyone and better than most.

    Too many people have taken these rumors to mean Apple's going to release Macintosh for x86. I'm not quite ready to jump that gun just yet.
    • by reiggin (646111) on Friday June 03, 2005 @11:30PM (#12720610)
      Mod parent up. This is what I'm thinking as well. Apple owns enough of the PPC rights to simply license Intel to produce chips for them. Afterall, Apple's only gripe with IBM (as was the gripe with Motorola) was a supply problem, not a quality problem. I think Apple is very happy with the archetexture but wants a supplier and developer that can actually handle their needs. Intel is really the only one they can trust. They have the R&D and they have the manufacturing capability. IBM is too spread out, as was Motorola. Intel only does chips. And not just x86, either. I believe that on Monday, Intel will become the new "I" in the A.I.M. Alliance.
    • MOD PARENT UP (Score:3, Informative)

      by Trillan (597339)
      This is so blatantly obvious I'm shocked we keep seeing the "Mac OS X on x86!" stories. Intel is not x86. Apple is co-owner of PowerPC. Why would it shock anyone to have Intel making PowerPCs?
    • YES, MOD PARENT UP (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Phroggy (441) *
      I just blew all my mod points, but this is exactly it - if this rumor is true, it means Intel will start making PowerPC chips.

      The idea that Apple would switch to x86 simply doesn't make sense. There are no drivers, and no applications. Of course Apple would continue using their own hardware and would port their own applications, so such a machine wouldn't be a complete paperweight, but seriously, without backwards-compatibility (via PearPC etc.), why would someone want one?
    • by adpowers (153922) on Saturday June 04, 2005 @12:27AM (#12720980)
      Sorry, I just had to follow the trend.
    • And there's a reason why IBM started making PPCs after Motorla.

      Well, one reason is that the PPC is based on the POWER architecture--which was invented by IBM in the first place.

  • by GaryPatterson (852699) on Friday June 03, 2005 @11:24PM (#12720550)
    I posted this somewhere else recently, but it applies here today.

    == On having two architectures to support (x86 and PPC) ==
    So a developer has to compile for two targets, optimise for two targets and ship fat binaries? What will that do to development costs, and ease of development for the platform? What if a developer like Adobe decides to only support PPC development, and tells the x86 customers that they support Windows on x86 and that's it?

    And then there are Apple's own issues. They've got to effectively double their Mac hardware R&D to support the two completely different architectures.

    And what do they gain?

    == On Everyone and Their Dog Switching en masse ==
    When I talk to people, they buy a PC because they don't know about Macs. When they do know, they often go PC anyway because they're used to it. There's also pricing. Apple's machines do come at a premium, although I maintain that the iBook line is nicely priced (well, it was when I bought this one a year ago).

    Suppose Apple sells a box with an Intel inside. For starters, why would the cost drop? A powerful Pentium is not so much cheaper than a G5. The other components are similar enough. Maybe Apple would use PC motherboards? So why would anyone buy their hardware from Apple?

    I don't see any evidence that hordes of PC users are going to drop Windows just to get OS X on x86. I see lots of people on hobbyist sites say that they'd buy it, but they're a tiny minority of a large market. Would that translate to actual sales, or would there be a reason why many of them still wouldn't buy it? What about piracy? How many people would 'try it out' for an extended period of time and never get around to purchasing the boxed copy?

    And make no mistake: to make up for the lost hardware sales, Apple would need hordes of switchers to buy those shrinkwrapped boxes. If sales aren't what they hope, there goes the business.

    That's a point to remember too - if a CPU switch goes wrong, that could pretty much screw the company. A few billion in red ink, combined with potentially facing near-zero sales when you give away your flagship OS (I'm thinking software piracy and commodity x86 hardware here) and we'll see Apple closing its doors. Some mistakes can only be made once.

    ==On Software==
    I mentioned earlier that developers would likely have to support two completely different architectures, even in the 'best case' of Apple going entirely to x86. There's a legacy of PPC Macs out there that you have to sell to, after all.

    That means that initially, there would be zero third party applications for OS X on x86. Not a single one. Maybe iLife really *is* all you need, perhaps with iWork. Over time, new apps would come out, but who would buy the new OS in the first year? That would be a hard sell to Herb and Judy Customer. "Sure, there's nothing you can do with it now, but give it a year or so and... Wow!" (I'm exaggerating of course, but you can go only so far with the iXxxx software before you itch to run something else.)

    And what of the developers? I mentioned in an earlier post (not well stated though) that this would be the last straw for them. I'll modify that to "last straw for some of them." They have to learn new optimisation techniques, recompile all of their existing code for the new platform and re-release it - and that's the best case for consumers! Realistically we'll see more developers follow the Adobe and Quark path of holding off for 12-24 months for no apparent reason, and only when the market is safe, releasing their product as a new version with new features for the new platform.

    The cost for any app being developed will increase. Not by double, as this would encourage more platform-independant code (well, CPU-independant at any rate), but there would be a definite increase. Who will pay for that? We will! Hooray! Software price rises!

    And what if the developers simply say that the OS X platform is too unstable? After all, in five years we've seen a lot
  • by fprefect (14608) on Friday June 03, 2005 @11:26PM (#12720577)
    AsSeenOnTV, please tell us it's not true!
  • by Lisandro (799651) on Friday June 03, 2005 @11:31PM (#12720625)
    John C. Dvorak actually predicted something that happend! [slashdot.org].

    I'm scared. Hold me.
  • Who really cares? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by NotQuiteReal (608241) on Friday June 03, 2005 @11:33PM (#12720646) Journal
    When you use TCP/IP, do you care if it wired, wireless, fibre? As long as the packets get there in a timely fashion.

    I submit that normal USERS (not some geek with an odd political fetish) really don't care what the hardware is. I am sure the OS will still be "Mac OS X".

    Sheesh, do I care if my snail-mail letters are carried via pigeon, car, truck, plane or train, as long as the bill is marked "paid" on time!

  • by chill (34294) on Saturday June 04, 2005 @12:17AM (#12720926) Journal
    If Apple move to Intel, then they are just another clone maker. If you could then get OS X on any x86 PC, how much more would you pay for the pretty box? Their hardware margins would go in the toilet.

    This would be the beginning of the end for Apple as a *hardware* company. They could then focus on iPods, software and the like.

    -Charles
  • by Hythlodaeus (411441) on Saturday June 04, 2005 @12:49AM (#12721103)
    Such a move doesn't make sense for Apple. They have a really nice OS, but their business is selling hardware at absurd markups. They can only justify those markups when the hardware is drastically differentiated from commodity hardware. Even if they create some licensing/DRM scheme to limit OS X to Apple hardware, such a slim difference will make consumers look hard at what exactly they are paying for. If they do try to limit the OS to the hardware, I expect an explosion of interest and development in GNUstep on Darwin that will steal their thunder fairly quickly. Then all they're left with is a pretty stylish case (which in the end is probably what sells the most boxes anyway.)
  • Spin Control (Score:4, Informative)

    by Colol (35104) on Saturday June 04, 2005 @01:32AM (#12721309)
    I know it's like shooting fish in a barrel to find problems in a C|net article, but why not?

    Apple has used IBM's PowerPC processors since 1994...

    Nitpick: More accurately, "Apple has used PowerPC processors since 1994." The way C|net wrote it, it sounds like IBM is the only game in town until you make it halfway down the page.

    The earliest PowerPC chips were from IBM, the G3s were from either Moto or IBM, and G4s were from Moto (and now Freescale). Only with the G5 has it come back to IBM's PowerPCs in a big way.

    The Wall Street Journal reported last month that Apple was considering switching to Intel

    No, the Wall Street Journal did not. The Wall Street Journal's rumor page -- on par with such publications at The Sun and the National Enquirer, and not intended to be taken as factual -- printed this as a rumor. Not that this stopped Reuters or anyone else from reporting it as fact.

    Keep also in mind that the shadowy mystery figures in the rumor are "two industry executives with knowledge of recent discussions between the companies" -- not Apple or Intel employees. Maybe it's Darl McBride and one of his other personalities!

    "I don't know that Apple's market share can survive another architecture shift. Every time they do this, they lose more customers" and more software partners, he said.

    Apple has changed architectures once, from the 68K to PowerPC. This change was, for the most part, completely transparent to users and developers. Why would they lose customers over something so painless? Next thing you know Detroit will be losing customers because their latest cars have a V8 and anti-lock brakes where last year's models had a V6 and a dashboard Jesus.

    Even if you count OS 9 to OS X as an "architecture" change, nobody was forced into it and OS X did and does still run OS 9 -- and earlier -- apps.

    Apple shipped 1.07 million PCs in the first quarter, and its move to Intel would likely bump up the chipmaker's shipments by a corresponding amount, McCarron added.

    In other news, transferring $1.07 from your checking account to your savings account is likely to raise your savings balance by $1.07.

    WiMax? Sure. ARM? Sure. Hell, might Intel even be getting into the PPC biz? Stranger things have happened.

    If Steve Jobs stands on the stage at the Worldwide Developers Conference and announces Apple's moving to x86, Satan will rise up from the underworld and devour the souls of every innocent puppy and kitten. And then emit the fart that ends the world. This is, of course, completely unlikely to happen, as we all know Satan prefers chunky peanut butter to the souls of small animals.
  • Co-processor? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Andy_R (114137) on Saturday June 04, 2005 @03:55AM (#12721833) Homepage Journal
    Apple sold a lot of G4s to nervous switchers on the understanding thatthey could run all their x86 software under Connectix's Virtual PC software. Microsoft bought Connectix and Virtual PC for OSX hasn't exactly been top of Microsoft's priorities (I assume the Connectix staff are probably working on making the Xbox360 run Xbox software).

    This leaves Apple with a hole in it's marketing. If Apple does launch a Mac with an x86 in it, I'm betting it's there as an addition to the G5s, and being effectively a hardware accellerator for an own-brand 'Virtual PC'. It wouldn;t be the first time Apple has done this.

    A cheap, headless x86 coprocessor in a Mac Mini sized box that lives on the other end of a firewire cable could be a very interesting proposition.

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